Effluent water dumped on reserves

Jasmine BamfordNorth West Telegraph

Fed-up sporting groups have flagged health concerns over South Hedland recreation reserves which have been plagued by flooding for months.

Problems first arose following unseasonably high rainfall in June which triggered the closure of both Kevin Scott Oval and Marie Marland Reserve on June 29 and 30.

Community concern came to a head last week after Town of Port Hedland staff were witnessed pumping water onto Kevin Scott Oval from the drainage ditch next to the Finucane Island Sport and Recreation Club.

Fini Club manager Tom Keefe said tanks holding effluent water for oval irrigation had been overflowing into the drain “every three days” for months.

“I’ve rung them about this issue and emailed (Mayor) Kelly Howlett too, they keep saying they are going to rectify the problem,” Mr Keefe said.

“Kids are meant to be training here tonight, I can’t let them run around in that. Swans have a home game on Saturday and it stinks.”

Town staff returned to pump water from the ditch on Friday, directing it through the Finucane Island Club car park onto nearby Marie Marland Reserve.

A spokeswoman from the Town of Port Hedland said the council was only approved to irrigate ovals with refuse water at night, unless testing the irrigation system.

She confirmed staff were directed to pump water from the drainage ditch onto Kevin Scott Oval last Thursday, saying pumping began in the morning and stopped at approximately 2.30pm to allow seepage and a four-hour contact time to pass.

“The water pumped onto the oval on Thursday was a combination of storm water, scheme water from a burst pipe over the weekend and some reuse water from an overflow making the water very diluted,” she said.

However parents who arrived for a junior rugby training session at 5pm reported finding part of the oval where the children usually train still underwater.

Port Hedland Softball Association president Sarah Pittman said the problems with Marie Marland reserve had been ongoing.

“More recently…I went down there and I rang (ToPH recreation services and facilities manager) Graeme Hall and I said ‘what’s the story’,” she said.

“He said it wasn’t actually issues at Marie Marland it was somewhere else, however now they are pumping water out of the ditches so I can’t help but wonder if that’s been happening all along.”

Ms Pittman said at no point had anyone advised her not to be in contact with the water or stop using the facilities.

“I’ve been told time and time again that the water will disperse and we will be fine to play,” she said.

“It is a mess and it stinks, plus it was drawing flies and mosquitoes by the afternoon.”

Ms Howlett responded to concerns posted on Facebook last week.

“It is not clear why this water was moved onto a sporting oval today particularly given the booked training and sports to be played on the oval,” she wrote.

“This is still being investigated. (It) seems it was a miscommunication between engineering and recreation services.”

Town of Port Hedland chief executive Mal Osborne said the existing irrigation systems were good but equipment faults did sometimes occur.

“The increased amount of water around the area is certainly not ideal,” he said

“The Town is working to manage and rectify the situation using all available resources.”

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